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Discussion Starter #1
Hello. Long story short: we moved to a big house with over 50 windows and openings. My family consists of 2 babies (3&4 years old)my wife (working), a lady who helps for the house (and lives with us) and me (working hard :) away from home 7am to 6pm).

So we bought a female Doberman for company and protection/alert. To tell you the truth, I had many male dogs in the past but without the babies and always living in the yard and never inside the house and as near socialized as this one.

Now this Doberman is almost 10 months old, sleeps most of the nights in my bedroom (has left the crate) and she is just the sweetest dog in the neighbor: extremely socialized, extremely friendly with all small kids and with our visitors, very friendly with all other dogs even with some cats.

My question is: is it possible that I have over socialized her, so that she will not become a good guard dog? From some signs I would say no, for example we have changed our bell 3 times (!) and from the first day she knew that someone is coming (good sign) and was waiting in the door to greed him and/or play with him (not a good sign).
 

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One thing I have to say is that you must bear in mind you're dealing with a puppy here. At 10 months, she hasn't even entered adolescence, let alone become an adult. Puppies don't guard anything. And through her formative months and years, you want her world to be as happy as possible. You want her to fear nothing and experience no trauma. This is the ideal way to raise a stable dog, and a guard dog is nothing if not stable.

If I were you, I wouldn't worry about the guard instinct for now. Continue the socialisation process and don't try to keep her from interacting positively with strangers and visitors. I've witnessed so many people try to "under-socialise" their dogs so that they become good guards. What they usually end up with is a dog that will bark and growl from afar, but tremble and pee behind its owner's legs once a stranger actually approaches.

Can I just ask what your "ideal situation" is for the dog? I'm not jumping down your throat, I'm just asking what your eventual expectations are for this dog. When my dogs hear or see someone coming, they start barking, but are expected to be quiet on cue, be friendly to strangers who visit and are certainly not expected to growl or attack. Is this what you are aiming for? Or are you hoping for anything less/more?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi rosemaryninja and thanks for your detailed reply, which was actually the confirmation that I wanted to read.


Can I just ask what your "ideal situation" is for the dog? I'm not jumping down your throat, I'm just asking what your eventual expectations are for this dog. When my dogs hear or see someone coming, they start barking, but are expected to be quiet on cue, be friendly to strangers who visit and are certainly not expected to growl or attack. Is this what you are aiming for? Or are you hoping for anything less/more?
1. Well I got the dog, as when I was kid I grown up with dogs and cats and I want the same for my kids. I remember when I was returning upset from school or when my parents yield at me, I was taken my Siamese in my room, talk to her and relax.

2. I love animals in general and I always want to have one at my side, especially my current dob, which is world class female.

3. Guard: although I have an alarm system, I use it only at night and in the morning/noon, I want my dog to act as guard, where necessary. Same at night in case that someone bypasses my alarm.
 

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I understand, but what kind of guarding ability are you hoping this dog will have? Do you want the dog to give one bark when she hears someone coming? Bark incessantly until she is told to stop? Or do you want her to actually attack intruders?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I hope to attack intruders but I will be OK if she will be just an alert dog (barking until shes told to stop).

I believe that because of the nature of Doberman (protection dog) it is likely to attack when she sees a threat to our kids, for example.
 

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Frankly I wouldn't expect an attack from any dog, even a Dobe, unless it has been professionally trained in bite work. Leaving a dog to judge what constitutes a threat, and act upon that judgement, is leaving a HUGE liability in your hands and is a disaster waiting to happen.

My advice: Keep your alarm on anytime you leave the house or are asleep. Train your dog to bark when she hears someone approaching, but nothing more. That, or find a professional trainer to train your dog for protection.
 

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Leaving a dog to judge what constitutes a threat, and act upon that judgement, is leaving a HUGE liability in your hands and is a disaster waiting to happen.
I completely agree. When I was growing up we had a lab/shepherd cross; she was extremely smart and friendly, but also very protective. I'm not sure how my parents trained her but I don't believe she was actually trained to be protective, it just came with the dog.
When my uncle walked in unannounced when we weren't home she attacked him. She would have done a lot of damage if he wasn't wearing a jean jacket.
It is not a position that a dog should be in in my opinion. There are too many things that could go wrong, and the dog will always be the one that has to suffer because of it. Nothing happened with that dog after that incident because it was family. We were quite lucky with it. But luck runs out.
 

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Frankly I wouldn't expect an attack from any dog, even a Dobe, unless it has been professionally trained in bite work. Leaving a dog to judge what constitutes a threat, and act upon that judgement, is leaving a HUGE liability in your hands and is a disaster waiting to happen.

My advice: Keep your alarm on anytime you leave the house or are asleep. Train your dog to bark when she hears someone approaching, but nothing more. That, or find a professional trainer to train your dog for protection.
I 100% agree with this as well. You might be surprised how well your dog will protect you even with no training at all. See a thread I just posted here - http://www.dogforums.com/2-general-dog-forum/48695-i-m-proud-my.html#post509408 about my cocker spaniel who I'm sure has never been trained to attack anyone.
 

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That's a good question -- thanks for asking it and to everyone for your helpful replies.

I do have a question about this though:
At 10 months, she hasn't even entered adolescence, let alone become an adult. Puppies don't guard anything.
My puppies are only 4 months old, but they have started growling (and sometimes barking until I thank them and tell them they can stop) when someone they don't know comes onto our property. Are you saying that's not normal? They are very well socialized and when they take their cue from me that a visitor is a friend not foe, they become friendly and greet them with tail wags (for example, we had a crew of about 10 landscaping workers... all men... that they had never seen before... once they saw me greet and talk to them, they bounced up to them wagging their tails).
 

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My puppies are only 4 months old, but they have started growling (and sometimes barking until I thank them and tell them they can stop) when someone they don't know comes onto our property. Are you saying that's not normal?
Luna (Akita/GSD mix) started exhibiting guard behavior at just shy of 4 months. She barks/growls when she hears someone coming at the door, and then if it's someone she knows she stops barking. We did have one instance where she immediately took a liking to one of my friends (looked/acted similar to me) and stopped barking, but otherwise she doesn't stop until that person has proven him/herself to be a friend (we have to work on getting her to stop barking on command).

We're pretty much socializing the heck out of her... puppy class, inviting groups of people over, going to other people's houses, etc. and she still has that instinct to alert when someone comes onto "her" turf.

I don't know that she'd ever attack, and that's okay. I think just having a big dog barking in an intimidating fashion is enough deterrent.

I don't know that I'd ever want to be responsible for a dog trained to attack. I don't have the knowledge/know how and it just seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen. Most (if not all) lawsuits involving a dog bite/attack end up with the dog getting euthanized, and I'm not willing to trade Luna's safety for my own.
 

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I don't know that I'd ever want my dog to attack anyone. I've heard stories of people having break-ins, their dog attacking, and the freaking attacker suing....and winning! At work I had someone tell me their cousin had to have their dog put to sleep because of a similar situation. I think this is ridiculous! But I wouldn't want to risk it with me dog. I have NO idea how likely this is, but it would be a concern for me.

Bridgette barks when someone knocks on the door. She stops when told and I am sure her bark is enough to scare anyone away. I actually had a creepy guy come up to me when I was outside at night and Bridgette gave one bark that sent the man packing!

I think barking is enough...especially when you own a powerful breed :D
 

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How many intruders do you suppose ring the doorbell prior to breaking in?
Is this directed at me? Where did I say anything about a doorbell?

Luna barks/growls when she hears someone. I would imagine it would be the same if she hears someone breaking through a window, etc.

BTW, she barks when we come home (until she realizes it's us) and we don't ring the doorbell. ;)
 

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I don't know if this is helpful or not but when Uallis was around 5 months old or so, he's an English Mastiff BTW, we had someone suddenly appear at our house that Uallis had never met before. He growled and barked from a distance but when the visitor ignored him and kept walking towards us, Uallis didn't do anything but tuck tail and run for all he was worth back inside the house. :rolleyes: So just because they will bark at that age, doesn't mean that they will follow through with anything.

Someone told me awhile back certain breeds, especially Guardian breeds, have that instinct to protect "their people". This came about from a conversation about Uallis having "temper tantrums" whenever I left a room and he couldn't see me. They told me that if he couldn't see me, then he couldn't protect me. I don't know if that is how Uallis thinks or not but occasionally I have noticed that "instinct", trait or whatever you want to call it. He DOES seem to have a knack for guessing whether someone's intentions are good or...not so good. But it could be argued that that trait could be in many types of dogs, which I'm sure it is. But whether its true or not, I've never seen any indication that he'd ever follow through on any bad "vibe" he may feel towards anyone. He's never been tested (and I hope he never is) and that's the only way that I'd ever know. I just don't think that it will ever be a given that any family owned and trained dog will ever follow through on anything if they *needed* to. I think the only way that anyone will ever have any idea of what their dog would really do would be to have a dog professionally trained to be a guard dog and I don't know many people who would go to that expense or even want a dog with that kind of liability attached to it. So, I guess for everyone else who doesn't go with the protection training route would just have to wait and see if the need arises and *hope* your dog reacts the way you want it to, which ever way that may be. Personally, I don't want my dogs to attack and hurt anyone...namely because I don't want my dogs, themselves, hurt or killed. A person robbing my house can clean it out for all I care; I'd much rather have my dogs safe. Granted, I don't have children either...
 

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Honestly, I think the look of a doberman alone is going to scare off a burglar. Imagine if you kick in someone's door, walk inside and see a doberman staring at you. Given the reputation of the breed, whether it's barking or not, are you going to stick around to see if it's friendly? Chances are you'll shut the door, change your pants and head on to the next house.
 

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nike, my post was directed towards the OP: "My question is: is it possible that I have over socialized her, so that she will not become a good guard dog? From some signs I would say no, for example we have changed our bell 3 times (!) and from the first day she knew that someone is coming (good sign) and was waiting in the door to greed him and/or play with him (not a good sign)."

hulk, chances are that if a person was truly motivated to intrude upon your home and/or family and going about it in a semi-intelligent way, they would scope out the place first, notice the dog, poison the dog before the break in, or prepare themselves to kill it upon entry. Some intruders may not care about the barking or risk of being attacked, opting to skip directly to killing the dog upon entry. Drugged people, for example, can be incredibly strong and insane. I have seven (alert) dogs, including three big dogs who look quite menacing, but I have no delusions about their ability to protect me from a truly motivated intruder. About the only thing I could hope for them to do is be alive and barking to alert my neighbors, and for my neighbors to hear them and not think they're just having a "dog party."
 

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hulk, chances are that if a person was truly motivated to intrude upon your home and/or family and going about it in a semi-intelligent way, they would scope out the place first, notice the dog, poison the dog before the break in, or prepare themselves to kill it upon entry. Some intruders may not care about the barking or risk of being attacked, opting to skip directly to killing the dog upon entry.
I spent 6 years in law enforcement in a large metropolitan area. Not once in those 6 years did I ever see anyone kill or poison a dog to gain access to a house. I've seen dogs killed or poisoned, but in those cases the dog was the target and nothing else was harmed.
 

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If you want a dog to guard your house, you better have a 100% recall. Proper guard dogs are highly trained animals, they're not just naturally protective dogs that are allowed to behave however they want. Allowing that behavior without control is asking for a lawsuit when that dog feels it should bite or threaten someone it shouldn't (like a cop coming to your door or yard to investigate a call).

Many cops will shoot dead any medium or big dog that approaches them if they enter your property and it's behaving in a threatening way towards them (barking/growling). They will generally not wait to 'be sure' your dog isn't about to attack them before they defend themself, especially if it's a 'scary looking' breed. Most cops are not dog experts, they can't tell if a dog is genuinely dangerous or just being defensive.

Really, if you have a big dog in the first place, that is already a deterrent. Most criminals will see it and move on, they do not stop to check if the dog is friendly or not, they simply won't bother with the house at all. Most thieves are cowards. =P
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks a ton for all replies.

Just to clarify, the dog lives inside the house and not in the yard/garden. I know the burden if the dog attacks someone in the yard and that the dog may be ordered to be killed afterwards. This in a way may be correct as some small kids may play ball outside my house and the ball pops in and a kid jumps my fence, just to find his ball.
Or it could be an adult just jumping the fence to take an apple from my tree.

However I believe the judge will consider it differently if the dog attacks an armed burglar inside my kids' room, or if the burglar attacks my wife after broke down the basement's door.

Nevertheless I (excessively) familiarized my Doberman, so that she can distinguish the visitor with a person of bad intentions, keeping in mind ALL THE TIME that my kids are very young and their friends are coming in our house to play. An attack to a baby would be like a disaster, but I am almost sure that this won't happen after this overfamiliarization.
 

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Your dog cannot distinguish a visitor from a person with bad intentions. As much as we would all like to think that dogs have a sixth sense about who is a robber and who is just a friendly guy climbing the fence to retrieve his kid's ball... they don't.

If your dog attacks an armed burglar, she MAY be let off the hook. Notice I said "may". There have been cases in which the criminal sues and wins. If your dog attacks a friendly neighbour, she will be put down. And if you leave it up to your dog to decide who has malicious intentions and who doesn't, she has an equal chance of doing either of those things. Dogs do not innately "know" who is friendly and who is not.

In other words, if your dog feels like it's her job to decide who an intruder is, and attack that person, you could find yourself in a lot of trouble.

Better to train your dog to alert you with a bark when there is a stranger approaching or in the house. Then, YOU decide if the stranger is harmful or not, and act accordingly.
 
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